Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20, ESV).
All of us can change the world through prayer. There isn’t a disease, political event, catastrophe, war, or relationship that can’t be influenced by prayer.
Prayer is equal opportunity as you don’t need a certain level of social influence, have the right background, earn enough money, or have a high IQ. We can take comfort that the only qualification needed for great praying is knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior.
However, we can grow in our ability to pray. Below are the three best lessons that I have learned about prayer.
First: Start by saying thanks
Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done (Philippians 4:6, NLT).
Gratitude changes our perspective from grumbling to possibility.
With my children (and sometimes even with my grandchildren), when they are grateful, I want to give even more, but when they are demanding, I refrain.
It’s the same with God.
Our thanksgiving for what God has given should be the starting point of our prayers — even when we are in extreme difficulty. Life itself and hope for eternity give reasons for thanksgiving.
Second: Ask specifically according to calling
Read slowly . . .
Lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God (Ephesians 4:1, NLT).
When we learn to ask specifically, according to God’s calling in our lives, our prayers will be answered. Period!
When I ask someone about answered prayers, and they admit their answers are few and far between, I know that they don’t have a prayer difficulty but a calling problem. When God calls, He provides!
Specific prayers must be guided by the narrow path of God’s will in our lives and not our whims and fancies.
Third: Radical obedience
Praying and calling require obedience.
We become inoculated against God’s will because of our past sins, the dictates of culture, or peer pressure. Because of the influence of our fallen past, we too often fear what God wants us to do.
Fear of flying, fear of not having enough money, fear of what others will think, fear of losing a job, and fear of change can keep us from obeying God. If we won’t obey, then we don’t walk in God’s calling; and if not in God’s will, then we won’t receive answers to our prayers.
Note: Answered prayer isn’t difficult. God is our Father, and He wants to give us good gifts. He doesn’t have to be coerced. But God is also good and will answer prayers according to what is best for us.
I believe it is best to ask, ask, and ask. I learn a lot about prayer through both answered and unanswered prayers.
Be thankful . . . ask specifically according to calling . . . radically obey!
And remember to ask — always ask!